MY pan is spluttering and so am I. In fact, I’m cursing telly chef James Martin, that wannabe Keith Floyd, and fervently wishing that the next time he gets into his fancy sports car he drives over a cliff.
My tomato harvest, chiefly in hanging baskets and grow bags by the kitchen door, has been a lovely one this year. I swear by that little cherry Tumbling Tom. But some have failed to ripen and I don’t want to waste them. You can smuggle some of them into a curry, as a sort of Pound Shop tomatillo, or you can make green tomato chutney.
I made a few jars last year but was heavy on the spices and it is only just coming up to decent eating. It goes fine in a curry, though. What I needed was a chutney so on trend and clever it would knock spots off all other green tomato chutneys. Let’s face it, this is always a chutney with a whiff of waste not, want not desperation. Then I hit upon James Martin’s.
Yes, I know.
The man is hardly trendy but he is ubiquitous. Name me a food fair, he’s there. He’ll turn up for the opening of a fridge.
But what got me was that he caramelises the fruit. No one else did. Nifty, I thought, but there was a little niggle at the back of my mind as I followed the instructions.
First you melt brown sugar in a frying pan until it caramelises than add some white wine vinegar and the other ingredients. Wait a minute, won’t that mean . . .
It did. I swore. My wife ducked out of the kitchen. Luckily I had only added the vinegar, not the rest, and it took 20 or so minutes simmering before the toffee melted again. Then I added the tomatoes etc and proceeded as normal.
James Martin’s method, on the BBC food website, is less than 80 words and he doesn’t explain or allow for any of this. So what’s it like? Strangely, it does not taste of toffee. It’s OK and I’d judge that while it may improve with keeping it’s more or less ready to eat. I’ve got a jar and a bowl to use over the next few weeks with my cheese sandwiches. I’ll let you know.
175g light brown sugar
150ml white wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2cm fresh ginger, grated
1 red chilli (I used some green chilli and chilli powder)
600g green tomatoes, quartered
Heat sugar in frying pan until melted and caramelised
Add vinegar (see above!!) and other ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour until thickened and try the spoon test (trail through chutney to leave a channel).
Spoon into sterilised jars.
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